One day I will own a Chanel jacket. As you may or may not know, this runs the pocketbook about $7k , but if you’ve ever held a Chanel jacket in your hands, you’ll know why it takes 100 couture hours to make. Enter Tatiana Resale Boutique, one of the best connected NYC resale boutiques on the planet (self-described as: “high fashion at low cost.”) Sounds promising, right? And the good news is that you don’t have to live in NYC to take advantage of Tatiana’s stock. You can find it at my favorite designer den, e-bay: http://stores.ebay.com/Tatiana-Designer-Resale. If you see a Chanel jacket, I’m size 4.
By Heather Lewis
This project is super easy and only takes about one hour to an hour-and-a-half. You will need the following supplies:
• Acrylic paint
• Paint brush
• Rhinestones, tear drop shaped glass beads and some type of plastic beads. Vintage beads work best however, if you can’t find those, any beads from the craft store will work (they need to be round like a doughnut).
• Little wooden box (I found mine at the dollar store). They have these at any craft store. It does not matter what size. Mine measures 4” x 4”.
• Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks.
• Paper towels
• Seam binding
First: You have to paint your little box. Choose whatever color you like best. I painted my box a darker blue color and went over it with a lighter blue. Once the lighter blue was painted on, I took a paper towel and blotted the paint. This gives the box a bit of a weathered look. It turned out really nicely.
Second: You will take your little plastic doughnut beads and space them out on the top of the box before gluing them down. This will give you an idea of how many beads you will need for your box. Then you will glue those on with the hot glue gun one by one. This is a very tedious process however it’s the only way to do it. You will want to repeat this step on the top of each side as well. Once the doughnut beads have been added, you will glue on your rhinestones one by one. Again, this is a very tedious process but it’s the only way to do it.
This is what the box will look like once you have glued on the rhinestones and beads:
Third: You will take your rhinestones and teardrop shaped glass beads (can be plastic as well) and glue those onto the sides in the shape of a flower. My box only allowed for three on each side:
Fourth: You will cut your felt to the size of the bottom of your box. You will also need to cut two pieces for the inside top and bottom. Glue those on with the hot glue once you have determined what size the pieces need to be. Here’s a pic of the bottom of the box once the felt has been added:
Fifth: You need to add binding to all inside corners. I suggest taking the binding and gluing down each side you are working with until you have covered all sides. Once you’ve finished the binding, you will make four additional flowers on the inside top of the box. You will also add a teardrop bead to each inside corner:
WaLa! You have a lovely keepsake box:
The U.K. is such a style hotspot these days, and I’m always looking for a fab indie pipeline. She’s A Betty hits the spot, self-described as a blog for women with a focus on vintage & DIY fashion, indie & budget style. Sounds very familiar, kind of like She’s a Betty and Athena were separated at birth or something. (Well, Athena may be the more bookish, stay-at-home type, while Betty is an about-town party girl.) So even though She’s a Betty is a blog, if she were a girl, she’d be my best friend.
These boots are made for …? August 22, 2008
I’m not sure why I love shoes so much. Maybe it’s because I can’t make them. I can make my clothes, but I cannot make shoes. So they fascinate me.
It all started innocently enough when I was checking out the Chloe site’s Fall ’08 collection. Every model was wearing these forest-green, peep-toed, wrap-up, super-high boots—with pants, skirts, dresses—and they all looked fabulous. I had to have them. But if you know anything about Chloe boots, unless you luck upon them at Century 21, they are a pretty penny indeed. And if they are in season, they won’t be at Century 21.
I reasoned that certainly such a gorgeous boot as this would be all over e-bay. You know, someone gets a hold of them somehow (we won’t say how, let’s just leave it at “falling off the truck…”), and the next thing you know, it’s for sale on e-bay. I don’t know why I would have such an unrealistic expectation. It’s not like I’d had this experience over and over again, especially with a current item featured on a designer’s web site.
But I was born with this peculiar sort of ESP. I have a positively eerie radar for sales and hard-to-find bargains. This is not the case for me with lottery tickets, ailing friends or tragic incidents—only clothing and accessories. I went on over there to e-bay and wouldn’t you know that there was one pair sitting right there in my size at 60% off. I know that you are gasping in disbelief, but it was true. The problem was that the seller had no history. None. This was the only item that she had ever sold. Oh, the agony. Should I take the risk? I mean, this had to be destiny. I wrote to the seller, and she sent back a very sane note that she was a fashion stylist and these had been purchased for a music video shoot. It all seemed so reasonable and perfect. I bit the bullet, made the bid, and three hours after midnight, they were mine. Our fate together was sealed.
The boots actually arrived, much to my surprise, and I suddenly realized that I was the owner of a bargain pair of very expensive, tall, green elf-boots. The heel has got to be at least 5 inches. And while they fit, what will I wear them with? They require a gazelle to be carried off with any sort of dignity, and it’s definitely not office gear. The outfit below shows the boots in black, and it’s fairly reasonable attire. But in reality, that leather wrap is insanely challenging to tie up the leg, unless you have a stylist dressing you. Throw in the green, and suddenly, as shown on the site, purple tights are de riguer. I’m going to put my best effort into it, and if worst comes to worst, I’ll have a pair of really cool boots that I can pull out of the closet and gaze at passionately once in a while. I still love them, even if I’ll never wear them. I mean, look at them. How could you not love them. I’m going to go pick them up from the Russian shoe guy right now.
By the way, I’m told that there is a class for making shoes at the MAKE Workshop, so maybe that will be my next step, no pun intended. Or the shoe design sequence at FIT. You just may find me there with my cobbler tools.
My Voodoo Love Affair with My Spice Cabinet August 21, 2008
By Ann Walton Sieber (Your Mandala Chef!)
Annita’s Pepitas (spicy pumpkin seeds)
Homemade chili powder
Spicy cinnamon coffee
When Carlos Casteneda meets the mystic and teacher Don Juan, one of his first assignments is to intuitively pick where to sit in an empty room, the master explaining to the perpetually befuddled Casteneda that you must develop your intuitive powers in order to develop as a magician.
The same is true of us magician chefs. We taste a dish, our intuitive powers ask, “Hmmm, what’s it need. Hmmm. Cinnamon.” “Cinnamon?! In chili?,” the rational mind may reply. “Yeah, and maybe some raisins too.” You go with it and it is sublime.
I love my spice cabinet
Your spice cabinet is your best intuition training tool. I love my spice cabinet. It is a series of shallow shelves, painted bright China red. I bought it at a garage sale in the early ’90s. The bottles holding the spices do not match (I’m not a matching kind of girl). They all have lovely handmade labels with curlicues and swirls. I refill them when they get low with bulk herbs I buy from Whole Foods or the India grocery store or the Middle Eastern market, pouring them into the bottles with a little red funnel, one of those periodic kitchen maintenance rituals. It’s like brushing your hair—it needs doing, but it’s enjoyable. (Unlike many other dutiful maintenance rituals I can think of.)
I suggest having your spices out where you can see them. I’m still surprised at how many of my top cooking friends have their spices in bottles and baggies in a box stuck in the cupboard, where they have to tediously sort and poke to find what they want. I’m somebody who likes to see the useful items in my life—if something is hidden away, I’m likely to neglect it, deem it too much trouble, forget about it for years.
My mother alphabetized her spices—that’s one way. I group mine by affinity. The Mexican spices (cumin, coriander), segue into the Indian spices (cardamom, turmeric), the Italian (dill, basil). It is not entirely methodical, but instead organized by what feels right. Don’t know where paprika would fall, but it’s reddish and complex, so I put it up by the Indian spices.
Here’s what I have in my spice rack: paprika, tumeric, garam Masala, curry, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cumin (ground & seed), coriander (ground & seed), fennel (ground & whole), anise, cardamom (in pods, shelled, and ground), red pepper flakes (get these free from pizza delivery packets), cayenne, cinnamon (ground & sticks), cloves (ground & whole), mustard (ground & yellow & black seeds), basil, dill, rosemary, Italian seasoning, marjoram, whole dill seed, caraway seeds, onion powder, bay leaves, sage, thyme, oregano, lemon pepper, white pepper (ground & peppercorns), celery seed, garlic powder, homemade chili powder, pepper (ground & peppercorns), asafetida, Mrs. Dash, fenugreek, cream of tartar.
I mostly use all of these. Then have some even more obscure ones tucked away just in case some fool recipe comes up with something from left field (and I came upon a spice sale one day and stocked up).
Salt & Pepper
I love salt and pepper–I really get how they’ve been dubbed the king & queen of American spices. There used to be a diner in the blue-collar town of Lee, Massachusetts, that only served soup and was called The Salt & Pepper. I thought that was the greatest name.
I didn’t grow up loving salt, and I had a slightly snobby scorn for those who salted their food with gusto. But then I started using sea salt and everything changed. I started to crave salt in my food in what felt like a good craving, a what-my-body-really-needs-to-be-healthy craving. (How do you tell the difference between a hale-and-hearty craving and demon garden-path, addictive, running-from-your-emotions craving? Intuition, bien sur!) Now I love salt, and add it often, and it all seems to the good. (And my blood pressure is still on the low side, as before.) If you want some info on the difference between typical table salt and sea salt, here’s a link (Salt: What You Don’t Know Can Harm You – and What You Should Do Instead).
About pepper, I used to grind up a batch of peppercorns in my coffee grinder (more on this, anon), and then keep it handy for the next months. (I guess it’s better to have it absolutely fresh ground, but I couldn’t tell the difference enough to bother.) But recently, my gourmet good-cooking friend Hannah introduced me to coarse ground pepper. You buy it in a large bottle at your local grocery (regular grocery, not high end), and it’s more coarsely ground than what will come out of your pepper mill. You have to like biting into a big wake-me-up chunk of pepper, but it so happens, I do.
I keep my salt and pepper on the ledge right above my stove in little open dishes—beautiful creamy porcelain—so it’s easy to pinch a little here & there. For me, a big part of aiding intuition is having everything easy and appealing.
(Your sanitary practices may bristle at the open dish method, but that’s another one of those cooking judgment calls—are you a cook who tastes a dish with a spoon and rinses it off? Or do you keep tasting with the same cook-germy spoon? In my circles, cook’s germs are in a different category than mere eating mortal germs. Do you observe the three-second rule—if it drops on the floor for under three seconds, it’s okay to use—or do you disdain it for the rationalization it is? But it’s your call, of course.)
Your coffee grinder & why chili cinnamon cappachino may not be such a bad thing
Grinding spices fresh is a great way to really make them sing. Peppercorns, cinnamon, coriander seeds (yum!), cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom, etc. You can have a designated spice grinder, sure (and actually, I’m in the market for one). But don’t be scared to use your coffee grinder. I wipe it out first, but not real carefully. (You may be getting the gist of how I cook here.) A little coffee flavor with the pepper may be a good thing. And then, after I’ve ground up my spices and I’m ready to grind coffee again, I rarely clean it out. I’m curious about how different spices may taste in the coffee.
That’s how I discovered my current “I can’t wait to go to bed, so I can wake up and have it” coffee.
I was making a fresh batch of chili powder and left some in the coffee grinder. Of course. When I put my coffee beans in the next morning, my little chef magician voice said, “Ooh, this is fun, let’s add a cinnamon stick.” I did, and oh my god. It tasted like chocolate. Sure it’s weird. But not yick weird—it’s yum weird. Try it and let me know what you think. I’ve drunk nothing else the past three weeks.
(By the way, cinnamon is the secret tip to making dreadful coffee kinda good. When I was a freshman in college, when we wanted an extra special meal, we’d save up our paltry student cash and go to this little French restaurant. We all told each other how especially wonderful the coffee was. One time I asked them what kind of coffee they used, expecting to be let in on some elite coffee roaster insider tip. “Folgers,” the French waiter replied indifferently. “Folgers with some cinnamon sprinkled on top.”
So ever since then, when I’m in some dreadful houseguest situation where all that’s available is the Folgers, I just give a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon into the coffee grounds before I start the Mr. Coffee dripping.)
Annita’s Spicy Pepitas
Pour some olive oil in the bottom of a pan (heavy bottom, if you have it) over a medium flame. Let it heat up a little, then pour in some raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and stir to coat. You be the judge on the amounts, but it’s okay to have the pepitas a half-inch or so deep in the pan, and they should be a little oily, but not swimming.
Now, go to your spice cabinet and do a little chef voodoo. What calls out to you? What’s your spice today? Gather a bunch of jars—for me, it’s usually 7 or 8. Here’s what I put in yesterday’s pepitas: cumin, coriander, pepper, chili, paprika, ground mustard, turmeric, salt, maybe a few more. They were yummy. I wasn’t in the mood for sweet, but I often add ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, anise, fennel, maybe curry, maybe even garam masala (which is a blend of spices itself).
Just sprinkle and dump the spices on top of the pepitas; don’t worry about measuring. Stir them in so they are evenly distributed over the oil-coated seeds. When the seeds start turning different colors, taste them & see if they’re done. Be careful not to forget you’re cooking and let them burn! (I hate having to pick the burned ones out.) If they are not quite done, you can take them off the flame and they’ll keep cooking a little in the pan, but you won’t have to worry about burning them.
Put them in clear jars on your shelf because they’re pretty that way. Use them on top of soups (especially Ann’s breakfast puree soups—cauliflower dill, zuccini-fennel, squash-ginger—upcoming in a future Mandala Chef blog!), salads, in omelets, just for munching. I gave a little jar to my new NIA teacher for her birthday and she nearly swooned.
Your very own chili powder
This is easy to do (if you can find the chilis), and is so worth it, to have freshly ground, complex pungent chili powder.
Buy a package of dried pasilla chilis—they come about 6-8 in a package here. These are easy to find here in Texas, but I don’t know about elsewhere. I assume that there are now starting to be groceries with Mexican specialties more widely available.
Roast in the oven or toaster oven. Not long, a few minutes, until they puff up and are fragrant. Easy to leave in too long.
Let cool a little, then break open, let the seeds slide into the compost, and then tear into smaller bits and grind up in your coffee grinder. (Or save some to make coffee with, see next recipe.)
Put in a little jar with a nice label, and use as you would chili powder.
Ann’s spicy cinnamon coffee
I keep a bowl of roasted pasilla chilis on my counter (see previous recipe). Tear up about one-third to one-half chili, put into your coffee grinder (compost the seeds), add half a cinnamon stick, and then the coffee beans. Voila! (Or if you don’t grind your beans, just add chili powder and ground cinnamon, it’s still great.) I drink it with soy creamer, and I swear it tastes like chocolate. I’m having a cup right now—it’s so good!
No shoe for you! August 20, 2008
I wonder if I’m the only person in the world who heard about the 65% off 65% sale at Bloomingdale’s at my favorite literary mall, Walt Whitman in Huntington Station, Long Island. Because I swear, I was the only person shopping there. It was like my own personal sale at my own personal mall. I guess my competition had tanning booth conflicts. And of course, nowhere did I do more damage than the shoe department. I’m not normally so rash, but who can resist those sort of prices. We’re talking Stuart Weitzman, Tori Burch, Michael Kors, Cole Haan….
Naturally, being freshly endowed with a bevy of designer shoes and newly graduated from my previous Nine West wardrobe, I needed to give my shoes the proper start for treading the rough Manhattan sidewalks. As every good shoe owner knows, taps are a must.
Normally, I would just go to the Russian guy over in the Clark Street station. He’s cheap and doesn’t give me any problems. But I don’t really trust him with the new cache. Shoes do have a way of disappearing at his hole-in-the-wall shop, and I just can’t risk that with this once-in-a-lifetime loot. So I load up my newly acquired treasure and head to the very high-maintenance and much more expensive shoe guy on Montague Street. This shoe guy is very, very discriminating. First off, cash up front. And it’s not cheap. That’s if he’ll even accept you. One gets the feeling that at any point, if he takes a sudden dislike to you and your shoes, it’s gonna turn out like the soup guy on Seinfeld. “No Shoe For You!” But I also know that if he accepts my shoes, they will get only the best care. It’s kind of like getting your kid into a good New York City private school.
Tonight, such rejection wasn’t even an option, for the expensive shoe guy also keeps summer hours and closes promptly. I was five minutes too late, burdened as I was with two full Bloomingdale’s Brown Bags, plus a box of ankle booties tucked under one arm. No shoe for me.
I realized with anguish that I would not only have to hike two long blocks to the cheap shoe guy, who may not even be open, but that I would also have to trust him with my new shoes. By the time I arrived, it was almost seven, but he was still open, barely. He’s no diva, but I could see that he was not happy to see me arrive with my 10 pairs. He looked my first pair, a delicately pointed black Stuart Weitzman pump, with complete disdain. “How much this shoe?” he asked. “$300,” I said. His eyes widened. “Well, I mean originally,” I amended, fearing that my shoes would disappear into the black market, “I paid $50.”
He looked at the other nine pairs lined up and his eyes narrowed. “You European?” “No, not at all!” (I am about as far from a European as it’s possible to get—I’m Midwestern.) “Why?” I ask. “They buy, come here, buy lots of shoes.” “No, I just found a very good sale, but don’t tell my husband.” That last directive completely confused him. Did the cheap shoe guy have a wife? Did he care how many shoes she bought?
From there we moved onto the treatment for each shoe. Now the expensive shoe guy doesn’t get involved, unless it’s a matter of shoe-repair principle (at which point, get ready to burn some cash). But this guy had opinions. He wanted me to resole every shoe, insisting that the original, unprotected sole would wear down and I would also slip-slide dangerously around town. “I only wear these shoes once a month, at most,” I said. “I don’t need new soles.” But he would not back down, intuiting, no doubt, that I would sooner give in than have to carry these shoes back home. Finally we compromised on him resoling four pairs at $17/pair, adding taps to five at $6/pair and rejecting two entirely. And he insisted that I come back the next day, as he didn’t have room for all my shoes. I agreed and even had to pay in advance. So my question is, if my cheap shoe guy is turning diva and expensive on me, what does that mean for the high-maintenance shoe guy? It’s as if the whole shoe-repair world has gone out of balance, like when the frogs run out of gnats to eat and the whole eco-system upends.
As I packed up my rejected shoes to leave, the cheap shoe guy pulled out a plastic-wrapped bracelet from under the counter. “You like jewelry?,” he asked with a black-market leer.
Now I really do wonder if I’ll ever see my shoes again.
Don’t cry over broken china: Recycle it into jewelry! August 19, 2008
Did your heart break just like your favorite vase did when it slipped out of your hand and fell to the floor? Has the handle broken off of that beautiful tea cup that your grandmother loved so many years ago? Would you like to do something really special for your teenage daughter’s graduation—maybe something with that Beatrice Potter bowl that she used as a child?
Just give Marjorie a shout at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry Store. She designs unique handcrafted jewelry using smoothed shards of beautifully decorated china, porcelain and ceramic, all intricately wire wrapped. You’ll find pendants, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, earrings, rings and brooches. For instance, here’s a pendant designed from a lovely Limoge plate:
Marjorie also crochets with wire, creating unusual and striking necklaces and bracelets that go so well with her broken china work, such as this lovely copper bracelet designed using Richard Ginori china from Italy.
To go along with her “cracked” theme, Marjorie now also includes sea glass and unusual broken shell jewelry in her repetoire.
Each piece is a one-of-a-kind creation—beautiful and affordable. Choose something from her extensive inventory, or she will work with you to create a custom-designed piece. Wearing Marjorie’s jewelry is like wearing a bit of history and is a totally “green” experience.